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J Exp Med. 2013 May 6;210(5):951-68. doi: 10.1084/jem.20120950. Epub 2013 Apr 22.

In vivo NCL targeting affects breast cancer aggressiveness through miRNA regulation.

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Division of Hematology, College of Medicine, Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


Numerous studies have described the altered expression and the causal role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in human cancer. However, to date, efforts to modulate miRNA levels for therapeutic purposes have been challenging to implement. Here we find that nucleolin (NCL), a major nucleolar protein, posttranscriptionally regulates the expression of a specific subset of miRNAs, including miR-21, miR-221, miR-222, and miR-103, that are causally involved in breast cancer initiation, progression, and drug resistance. We also show that NCL is commonly overexpressed in human breast tumors and that its expression correlates with that of NCL-dependent miRNAs. Finally, inhibition of NCL using guanosine-rich aptamers reduces the levels of NCL-dependent miRNAs and their target genes, thus reducing breast cancer cell aggressiveness both in vitro and in vivo. These findings illuminate a path to novel therapeutic approaches based on NCL-targeting aptamers for the modulation of miRNA expression in the treatment of breast cancer.

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